Expatriate leaders are in particularly high demand in sectors whose growth in India is relatively recent, such as organized retail and aviation, where they bring ready expertise and can drive Indian firms’ global plans. For expatriates, the challenge of working in the large and complex Indian market is alluring at a time when their domestic industries are in decline. The relative importance that Indian companies and their foreign hires lay by factors that control this phenomenon—such as the ease of relocation, pay packages, family adjustment and infrastructure—varies greatly. Companies also make a distinction between foreign nationals and Indians returning from abroad, expecting the latter to stay longer with them.

Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint

10-point checklist to prepare employers better for the expatriate hiring process

1. Prepare a hiring plan that is well-structured, candid and in-depth, identifying the factors of attraction as well as the potential negatives of getting an expatriate on board.

2. The person who you hire will deal with a lot more of the unknown than you will. Give the expatriate time to develop an understanding of the situation and to ask all the questions, many of which have not yet been framed in the person’s mind.

3. Too many times, a good hiring process is put at risk by top management taking the eyes off the goal post before the match ends. After the hiring, energies are at a low and the process is left to others to execute, but top management staying involved will deliver better results.

4. You are evaluating the person, but your prospective employee is also evaluating you. Being accurate and transparent about your teams will help the person better evaluate his/her ability to work with you.

5. Perceptions are the reality at all times. Managing the organization perception vis-a-vis the value proposition of the expatriate and the arising compensation differential is critical and will impact stability faster than you think.

6. Flexibility is more important than money. Thinking salary premium is good, but that is not all.

Articulate the value expectation and then compensate for that value to derive the maximum dividend.

7. You know the role intimately, the person has only read a page. Take time to talk about the role in the way you see it. The benefits can be amazing.

8. Think again if you believe the family is the person’s issue. Sure it is an issue the person must address, but do you want to leave it unattended? Keep it top of the mind and be innovative. It could be an asset or a problem that is best recognized early.

9. The obvious is not so obvious. Most Indian companies do their homework on areas like compensation structuring, risk mitigation and relocation and take their eyes off the main problem. Identify the problem and solve it; it might make a candidate accept many other terms that you set.

10. Avoid the value destroyers. Use contracts to say what you mean and don’t say what you don’t. "This is how contracts are in India" is not an excuse that cuts much ice.

10-point evaluation checklist to select the right expatriate leaders

1. Look for genuinely global experience. Remember, all talent that is sitting in Western Europe and North America is not global unless it comes from a global company.

2. Evaluate emerging market experience. An expatriate who has worked in countries similar to India (in terms of infrastructure, say Brazil or Indonesia) will be a better fit for working in India.

3. Too many "firsts" can be a minus. A person with many firsts to deal with—first-time CEO, first-time joint venture, first time outside the UK—can be a recipe for failure.

4. Look for India connect beyond the obvious—through holiday travel, business dealings, past experience, family connections and many more.

5. Should have relevant leadership experience. Mistakes include hiring mature people from mature companies; they have not invented things from scratch. They look for procedures, but there are none.

6. The expatriate has an advantage if he/she comes from an industry where their nation has made a mark.

7. Look for adaptability and learning abilities. Sensitivity is the key; lessons learned and personal qualities are often more important than job knowledge.

8. Make sure that the person you hire is a positive solution finder and not just a problem finder. If you don’t, you might be saddled with a person who complains too much about the work and the workplace.

9. A global mindset is more important than global experience. If the person has worked in a global company, he or she has been exposed to a different culture and could be rotated through various cultures and responsibilities.

10. And then much more. Look for qualities such as these: married to an Indian, sense of humour, robust, sensitive, high degree of social sensitivity, moral courage to take a stand, no arrogance, resilient.

Source: Amrop India